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Previewing App State's Defense vs. Penn State's Offense (2018-08-30 11:50:56)

BOONE, N.C. — Appalachian State opens the 2018 season with a road game at No. 9 Penn State on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The battle inside 106,572-seat Beaver Stadium will be televised by the Big Ten Network.

The Mountaineers and Nittany Lions, who are coached by James Franklin, were a combined 20-6 last season. Today, we'll look at how the App State defense matches up against Penn State's offense:

App State Defense vs. Penn State Offense

Appalachian State junior Victor Johnson revealed this week that he's a New York Giants fan. Asked about former Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, Johnson said he's glad that Barkley now plays for his favorite team.

The Mountaineers won't have to stop Barkley, who finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting before becoming the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, but they'll face a challenge in working to slow down the Nittany Lions' offense.

Heisman Trophy candidate Trace McSorley returns at quarterback to lead a group that averaged 41.1 points and 460.3 yards per game during an 11-2 season in 2017.

"He extends plays with his legs, and they utilize him in the running game," App State head coach Scott Satterfield said. "He's one of those guys that scrambles around, and your defense can get out of where they're supposed to be covering, and he finds the guys. He's just tremendous with that. That's why he's up for the Heisman and why they've won so many games with him at the helm. Barkley was an unbelievable running back, one of the top players in the draft, but I think McSorley makes their offense go."

Penn State averaged 170.2 rushing yards per game as a team in 2017 (compared to 223.6 for App State) while throwing for 290.2 yards per contest, as Barkley gained 1,271 yards on the ground (97.8 per game) and scored 11 of his 13 touchdowns as a running back. He also had two kickoff returns for touchdowns and caught 54 passes for 632 yards.

At running back, junior Miles Sanders steps in for the departed Barkley after averaging 6.2 yards per carry on just 31 attempts last season. The 5-11, 215-pound Sanders was rated the No. 1 back in the nation as a high school senior, and he'll be running behind an offensive line that has four returning starters.

That group helped protect the 6-foot, 201-pound McSorley, who had 28 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions as a junior. He also rushed for 491 yards and 11 touchdowns.

"He can get out of trouble, and they call (quarterback) runs," Satterfield said. "They're designed quarterback runs, and that puts a lot of pressure on the defense."

Defensively, App State uses nine or 10 players on its three-man line, with 2017 captain MyQuon Stout (defensive tackle), Okon Godwin (six starts last year at one end spot) and sophomore Elijah Diarrassouba (projected to make his first career start at the other end spot) likely taking the field first.

Outside linebackers Noel Cook (first start came in the 2017 Dollar General Bowl) and Akeem Davis-Gaither (three starts in 2017) join inside linebacker Jordan Fehr as upperclassmen with bigger roles alongside senior inside linebacker Anthony Flory, a preseason All-Sun Belt first-team pick. With McSorley's running ability, as well as his previous success in connecting with tight ends in the passing game, the linebackers for the Mountaineers will play an important role.

App State has starters back at three of the four secondary positions — cornerback Clifton Duck, cornerback Tae Hayes and free safety Desmond Franklin. Josh Thomas, the projected starter at strong safety, opened 2017 as a starting free safety before he suffered a season-ending injury. It will be a matter of strength against strength as McSorley tries to complete passes against one of the Mountaineers' most experienced position groups.

He has two of his top five targets from last year back in Juwan Johnson, who ranked second on the team with 54 catches for 701 yards, and DeAndre Thompkins, who had 28 catches for 443 yards. Penn State has moved forward without tight end Mike Gesicki and receiver DaeSean Hamilton, who had nine touchdown grabs apiece as seniors.

"They have really good skill players in guys like Johnson and Thompkins," Thomas said. "They're both good players in space. They run routes that put them in good position to get open, and McSorley puts the ball on the money, so you just have to be able to match those routes and play tight coverage.

"Our coaches, we have a good gameplan. We have to go out, execute and do our jobs."


App State Announces Remaining Home Football Game Times

BOONE, N.C. — Appalachian State has set game times for its entire 2018 home football schedule at Kidd Brewer Stadium.

The Mountaineers, who open the season Saturday with a road game at No. 9 Penn State, are scheduled to have 3:30 p.m. starts for their first four home games in Boone and 2:30 p.m. starts for their two home games in November.

The games set for 3:30 p.m. are home matchups against Southern Miss on Sept. 15 (Hall of Fame Weekend), Gardner-Webb on Sept. 22 (Heroes Day), South Alabama on Sept. 29 (Homecoming) and Louisiana on Oct. 20 (Family Weekend).

The games at 2:30 p.m. are home matchups against Georgia State on Nov. 17 (Black Saturday) and Troy on Nov. 24 (Senior Day).

Scheduled game times can be subject to change. The Sept. 15 home opener will be available on ESPN+, and the broadcast outlets for the other five home games will be determined, as is the standard, 12 days in advance.

Season tickets and single-game tickets are available to purchase online, by phone at 828-262-2079 or in person at the App State athletics ticket office located in the Holmes Center.

Appalachian State University
2018 Football Schedule
Scheduled Games

SEP 1 (SAT) 3:30 P.M. BIG TEN NETWORK
AT PENN STATE UNIVERSITY PARK, PA.

SEP 8 (SAT) 6 P.M. ESPN+
AT CHARLOTTE CHARLOTTE, N.C.

SEP 15 (SAT) 3:30 P.M. ESPN+
VS SOUTHERN MISS
HALL OF FAME CELEBRATION BOONE, N.C. KIDD BREWER STADIUM

SEP 22 (SAT) 3:30 P.M.
VS GARDNER-WEBB
HEROES DAY BOONE, N.C. KIDD BREWER STADIUM

SEP 29 (SAT) 3:30 P.M.
VS SOUTH ALABAMA
HOMECOMING BOONE, N.C. KIDD BREWER STADIUM

OCT 9 (TUE) 8 P.M. ESPN2
AT ARKANSAS STATE JONESBORO, ARK.

OCT 20 (SAT) 3:30 P.M.
VS LOUISIANA
FAMILY WEEKEND BOONE, N.C. KIDD BREWER STADIUM

OCT 25 (THU) 7:30 P.M. ESPNU
AT GEORGIA SOUTHERN STATESBORO, GA.

NOV 3 (SAT) TBA
AT COASTAL CAROLINA CONWAY, S.C.

NOV 10 (SAT) TBA
AT TEXAS STATE SAN MARCOS, TEXAS

NOV 17 (SAT) 2:30 P.M.
VS GEORGIA STATE
BLACK SATURDAY BOONE, N.C. KIDD BREWER STADIUM

NOV 24 (SAT) 2:30 P.M.
VS TROY
SENIOR DAY BOONE, N.C. KIDD BREWER STADIUM

DEC 1 (SAT) TBA SUN BELT CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
EAST VS. WEST CHAMPIONS TBD



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